On Thursday, former Cowboy DeMarco Murray officially signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The deal is for a reported five years and Murray could make up to $42 million.
The moment must have hurt Cowboys fans for a multitude of reasons. Murray is coming off his best season as a pro. Last season, Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 57 receptions for 416 yards as well. Still, the Cowboys had little hope of signing Murray at full-market value given their salary cap situation and the team’s decision to keep Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys had hoped to retain Murray but only at a comfortable price point. The Cowboys were hamstrung at $3 million under the $143.2 million salary cap due to previous restructures and committing $12.8 million to the franchise tag for receiver Dez Bryant.
The fact that Murray is signing with a divisional rival has to sting as well.
Cowboys owner/general manager/fanatic Jerry Jones released a statement on Murray’s departure where he blamed the salary cap for his team’s inability to keep Murray. If this were the glory days where Jerry could simply outbid anyone for a player’s services, DeMarco Murray would still be a Cowboy according to Jones:
We are very grateful to DeMarco Murray for his contributions to the Dallas Cowboys. He is a quality person, a very good football player, and a player that we wanted to keep.
We have great appreciation for his skills, and if there was no salary cap in place, DeMarco would be a Cowboy. This came down to an allocation of dollars within the management of the salary cap.
Obviously there is emotion involved in these decisions, but it is critical that there be must be discipline involved as well. If it were a question of having an open checkbook with no salary cap constraints, we all know things would have worked out differently.
We have recently made significant commitments to top players who are currently on the team, specifically at key positions such as quarterback, left tackle and wide receiver, and we were comfortable with the offer that we made to DeMarco to include him in that structure.
These are difficult decisions that are part of the NFL. They are decisions that take into account the entire team, the current economic structure of the team, and the financial concerns for the short and long term future of the team.
At the end of the day, this is about finding the best way to collectively fit all of the individual pieces together, in terms of talent, offensive players, defensive players and dollars—under the salary cap structure—that gives you the best chance to have a championship team.